By Corynn Johnson
UJW Staff Writer
WAHSINGTON – High kicks, dancing, hopping around and touching the ground may not seem difficult to do, but try doing those moves on 3-foot stilts.
“High heels are much easier to walk in,” said stilt walker Julianna Tucker, who was part of a five-person troupe from Orlando. They were gearing up for their second walk of the day at the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade and were changing out of Venus flytrap outfits into swinging fringe.
“My favorite costume is the Geisha and the candy cane,” said Tucker. “I don’t have a favorite routine. We usually do what the places ask us.”
The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade was April 14 in downtown Washington. Vendors and approximately half a million people were in attendance to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the gifting of the cherry blossom trees from Japan.
Tucker said it was her first trip to the nation’s capital and her first time performing at the cherry blossom parade. “I’m excited to be here for the 100th,” she said.
Tucker was taught stilt walking fours years ago by a friend and has been doing it ever since working at places like Universal Studios. Squatting to down to talk with small children, flips and leg lifts are other acrobatic feats the stilt walkers perform.
“Girls don’t usually do as many tricks as the boys,” Tucker said.
Justin Rivera, who attended as representative for the troupe’s agency, Hard Drive Productions, said the most difficult stunt he ever tried — but never mastered — was to roll down to the ground on his back and kick his legs back up to a standing position.
“I can roll down but cant stand back up,” he said with a laugh.
Rivera and Tucker said audiences don’t take into account how much work goes into perfecting their craft. Tucker said they had to be out of their hotel by 4:45 a.m.
And then there are the hot costumes.
“I learned you can get hot in places you didn’t even know,” said Tucker.